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Soulvine: L. A. homeless; grade school terrorism

Columnist Betty Pleasant on homelessness in Los Angeles; terrible 3rd graders

L. A. homeless find a champion; 8-year-old boy terrorizes school, neighbors

HOMELESSNESS IN L.A. —The Los Angeles City Council engaged in a lengthy discussion last week about finding homes for the city’s homeless people. This discussion was prompted by Councilman Jose Huizar, whose 14th District includes Skid Row, the area of the city with the most visible number of homeless people. But an equally pressing homeless issue looms over the city that makes me wonder why the council did not discuss the means by which the city can stop people from becoming homeless in the first place. I am referring specifically to the residents of the 40-unit Lafayette Square Apartments LLC at 1625 Crenshaw Blvd. who are facing imminent eviction simply because they are not young and healthy and wealthy enough to pay the increased rents the owner wants to collect from a more gentrified batch of tenants.

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

“Soulvine” is commentary by Betty Pleasant

Lafayette Square houses elderly, disabled, low income and veteran tenants and 39 of them are about to become new homeless constituents of Huizar. I say 39 of them because Hattie Fishburne, the mother of actor Laurence Fishburne resides there and is being evicted, too. But I presume the actor would not let his mother dwell on the streets of Skid Row. The others, however, are not so lucky. In fact, most of them were not in good health to begin with, and given the horror they face, they are becoming flummoxed and discombobulated by their ordeal. Already two have suffered strokes and several others have been hospitalized.

But some people of Los Angeles are coming to their aid. Wonder Woman, in the form of Alma Stankovic, an attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project, has ridden to the rescue and issued a four-page letter to the attorney of the apartment building’s owner detailing how his wholesale eviction of tenants has violated federal and state laws. She cited violations of the federal Fair Housing Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Section 12927 of the California Government Code, California’s Unruh Civil Rights and Disabled Persons Act and seven more California Civil Codes.

Did you notice that Stankovic did not mention any Los Angeles city or county law or ordinance that has been violated by the tenants’ evictions? Because there aren’t any!!

Furthermore, Stankovic described how an apparently hail and hardy tenant can become disabled by the receipt of an unearned eviction notice and become disabled, as evidenced by the strokes and heart problems the tenants are suffering and she requested that the time period for vacating the property be extended by six months.

I’ve been informed that not only do the tenants need more time to move out, but also need a lot of money to do so, to which the city states they are not entitled. I’ve been told the cost of moving includes $35 to $50 for a credit check, $1,200 to $1,400 rent for a one bedroom apartment; $1,500 to $1,700 for two bedrooms; a deposit of two times the rent, plus cleaning charges and they are required to pay first and last month’s rents. I’m told that some companies are asking for $100 to view the property or to hold it, which the prospective tenant does not even get back! I’m told that moving can cost $5,000 plus moving boxes, U-Hauls and labor.

These people don’t have any money. They are on Section 8 or receive Social Security or disability payments or some other type of retirement benefits. No wonder these tenants are dropping like flies. This is not right.

WAYS Charter School vs. third grader

Remember how a couple of weeks ago we discussed a problem Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists (WAYS) Charter School was having with respect to the behavior of an 8-year-old boy attending the school’s 3rd grade? His foul mouth and his insistent use of the F-word had resulted in his being kicked out of the school’s after school program. His behavior reached critical mass when, on one particular day, he took out his penis and put it on the head of one of the little girls in his classroom. Remember how the school’s administrators called his mother, told her to come and get her son and never send him back?

You may also recall that the mother appealed WAYS’ expulsion of her son to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which helped her file a complaint against WAYS with the state Department of Education and then proceeded to provide her with false information. The mother returned her boy to WAYS and told the administrators that LACOE told her she has the right to send her son to any school she wants. And she wanted him to attend WAYS.

After he returned to WAYS, he immediately kicked two little girls in the butt. After which, a group of angry WAYS parents contacted me and I told you all about it, including the fact that that woman who heads LACOE’s charter school office returned none of my calls. Well, the boy and his mama reside in Los Angeles’ Unified School District Number 1, which is represented on the LAUSD school board by Dr. George McKenna, the one person in the Southland who knows all the rudiments of education and who has more respect and gravitas among the people than all of LACOE combined. McKenna found a school in his and the boy’s district that provides special programs and activities to administer to the needs of such obviously troubled children. The mother balked at the notion of sending her son to a new and better coping school. So, the Department of Children’s Services entered the case and told the mother that if she does not send her son to the other school that is prepared to help him change his behavior, they will take her son away from her. He now attends the other school. Hallelujah!

Everybody important is now happy. McKenna says, “… all I wanted was to get the boy some help. Now he has it.”

Ed Cabill, WAYS’ principal is happy. “… that’s one less problem LACOE is causing us.”

And the outraged parents represented by Michele Culpepper are happy “…because we are no longer anxious about what could happen to our children when we send them to school. WAYS is a great school and we want to keep it that way,” she said.

I do not know if the boy’s mama is happy because I have not spoken with her. I want to and I wish she would call me. I’m not interested in feeding my salacious interests by discussing the boy’s behavior, as I want only to learn from the mother how LACOE got her involved in its ongoing campaign to bedevil and ultimately defund WAYS for its own racist reasons. I do know, however, that LACOE cannot be happy. And that makes me happy.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

  • Alison February 22, 2016

    Awesome story! That little boy and his mother have got to learn when they people tell them they are wrong…they are wrong!! Kudos to the elder for getting boy help in a proper school facility. Problem sovled. Case closed

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